Some employers are not reporting severe work-related injuries according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Over 50% or more are not being reported.
OSHA bases this conclusion on several factors, including injury claim numbers provided to us by state workers’ compensation programs. Because the majority of first year reports were filed by large employers, we believe that many small and mid-sized employers are unaware of the new requirements.
For those employers not reporting, OSHA is developing outreach strategies, including working through insurers, first responders, and business organizations. In other cases, employers are choosing not to report because they perceive the cost of not reporting to be low.
Employers should know that, now that the requirement is in its second year, OSHA is more likely to cite for non-reporting. In addition, the agency recently increased the unadjusted penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $1,000 to as much as $7,000. And that amount will increase even more when higher penalty levels recently approved by Congress take effect.
If OSHA learns that an employer knew about the requirement but chose not to report it promptly, the fine can be much higher. Already, one employer has been assessed enhanced penalties of $70,000 for willfully failing to report.
Results from the first year of severe injury reporting demonstrate the program’s success in both helping OSHA focus its resources where most needed, and engaging employers to identify and eliminate serious hazards at their workplaces. The report was authored by By David Michaels, PhD, MPH Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
OSHA will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness. For example, OSHA is refining guidance to the field about when a Rapid Response Investigation is appropriate and when an inspection should be called.
The agency is seeking new ways to make sure that small employers know about their reporting obligations and the resources available to them. Beyond the numbers and the success stories, OSHA knows that each case reported to us under this new requirement involved a human being who went to work one day and suffered an unexpected trauma.
Some, along with their co-workers and families, were changed forever. To help bring meaning to their suffering, OSHA hopes at least ensure that all severe workrelated injuries are reported to OSHA, and that they lead to safer working conditions for others.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.